1996-10-28 - RE: tcmay in favour of redistribution of wealth?

Header Data

From: “Timothy C. May” <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 40242141b2dd6fb05e5c2cc58b16342acb9e5158ead1eeacb44c40ad88e63e25
Message ID: <v03007800ae9a9e6989f6@[]>
Reply To: <9609288465.AA846523847@smtplink.alis.ca>
UTC Datetime: 1996-10-28 17:04:59 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 09:04:59 -0800 (PST)

Raw message

From: "Timothy C. May" <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 09:04:59 -0800 (PST)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: RE: tcmay in favour of redistribution of wealth?
In-Reply-To: <9609288465.AA846523847@smtplink.alis.ca>
Message-ID: <v03007800ae9a9e6989f6@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

I enjoyed reading James Bugden's comments. With all the clamoring about how
"Cypherpunks write code!!"--a phrase which has been taken to mean this list
is only about "malloc" and elliptic curves--there has been very little
discussion of the "moral basis of crypto anarchy." Much of my argumentation
along these lines is contained in various places in my Cyphernomicon and in
essays written in the early days of this list (and on the Extropians list,
before the CP list existed).

While I won't get started again here, understand that my views are much
more than just "justifiable apathy" about the people of the world.

A few comments:

At 9:31 AM -0500 10/28/96, jbugden@smtplink.alis.ca wrote:
>attila@primenet.com wrote:

>>in Canada, you call [redistribution of wealth] National Health
>>Services which supposedly provides cradle to the grave
>>social services (which is bankrupting Canada).
>In spite of these services the spread between Canadian and U.S. Bonds is in
>favour of Canada out as far as ten years. Interest rates this morning for
>90 Day
>T-Bills: Canada 3.23%; U.S. 5.02%.
>Remember: correlation is not causation.

Agreed, of course, that correlation is not causation. And I for one draw no
firm conclusions about the U.S. vs. Canada vis-a-vis national health care.
In fact, if this was _all_ the debate was about--nationalized health
care--I would gladly accept nationalized health care if various other
obnoxious U.S. policies were dropped.

A girlfriend is from a European country, where everyone has universal
health care. She likes it. And I tend to agree that it simplifies a lot of
bookeeping. While I don't like the coercion aspects, in some sense it's
just another tax. The _efficiency_ and _effectiveness_ arguments, that a
socialized system is less efficient and effective at supplying some types
of health care, is a valid one, and I won't argue with free markets. (But
it is also true that many of us never even visit hospitals, partly, in my
case, because the web of paperwork and mandatory insurance (almost, as even
my _dentist_ is befuddled and confused when I pay cash for work done...they
are programmed to deal with insurance carriers) makes the prospect
daunting. I'll visit a hospital if and when I need to, but I fear that by
then the system will have moved to an essentially nationalized health care
system, with the disadvantages of the socialized plans _and_ the
disadvantages of the terrible U.S. legal climate...and with anyone who can
pay then being charged utterly disproportionate rates.)

However, the things about the American system that sicken me, far more than
having my taxes go up slightly to have some health care system, are the
things that add to health care costs and that make a single day's stay in a
hospital cost more than $2000. (Woe unto he who pays cash for his stay,
for, verily, he shall be soaked.) Namely, malpractice insurance related to
frivolous claims ("the CAT scan caused me to lose my psychic powers and I
deserve $3 million"), the sandbagging of medical costs ("to pay for the
deadbeats and indigents the law says we have to treat, we'll charge you $50
for an aspirin and $675 for the wheelchair we say you have to sit in
whether or not you need it"), and on and on.

(My European friend snorts when she hears things like this. In her native
country, this nonsense does not occur. _Other_ nonsense occurs, but not
this kind of nonsense. Nobody in her country could possibly win a
multimillion dollar judgment for supposedly losing her psychic powers in a
CAT scan, or any other way, for that matter.)

Having said this, I think anyone who can _afford_ an expensive medical
operation should of course be utterly free to make arrangements to have it,
with no restrictions, waiting periods, or other market distortions. Free
markets in medicine and all that. (And of course, eliminating the FDA and
letting consumers either do their own research or contracting with other
parties to look out for their interests. On the Web, we're moving in this
direction. Note that some medical and psychiatric groups are already
pushing for limits on free speech on the Net, and uses of anonymity, to
control access to this liberating information. This has direct Cypherpunks
relevance, as even the "Cypherpunks write code" chanters have to admit.)

>>so where do you draw the line?
>Aye, there's the rub. So far I haven't *explicitly* drawn one. And the line I
>may draw now is probably different from the line I might have drawn 5
>years ago
>or 5 years from now. Ambiguity I can accept, its ambivalence, apathy and
>agnosticism that annoy me more.
>Tim's occasional combination of justifiable apathy tends to be the best
>combination to trigger a response.

"Justifiable apathy" is a good word for my beliefs. Yes, I am agnostic,
even atheistic, about most beliefs most people have.

For me, the skepticism of Nietzsche is far more comforting and believable.

The human animal concentrates its efforts and attentions on itself, its
family, its friends, and its various cohorts. Sometimes these cohorts are
local, sometimes on a mailing list like this one, sometimes international

My point? I feel more strongly about the death of one of my pets than I do
about hearing that some natural catastrophe in Bangla Desh has killed
100,000. And I think all honest persons will admit that this is a natural
reaction. The "Hamming distance" matters, and people I have never met on
the opposite side of the earth simply are _abstract numbers_ to me, as I am
to them. Natural.

Cryptography and networks allow the creation and maintenance of "virtual
communities" which alter Hamming distances, so that a list member in Bangla
Desh or Poland or Singapore may indeed become important to me. Social
spaces _are_ important--the death of a John Lennon is almost certainly felt
more strongly around the world than the deaths of 100,000 Bengalis as a
river overflows its banks.

Sorry for the digression from "coding" (:-}), but I thought I'd provide a
few more insights into my political views. Saying I display "occasional
combinations of justifiable apathy" is not the full picture.

And, as the other libertarians on the list will likely also say, it is not
that we libertarians and anarchists think the masses of the world are not
worth helping. It is more that we think the masses will best be helped by
lessening the burdens of the state--the recent worldwide (except China and
Cuba) collapse of Communism as a credible ideology moves us in this

The best thing *I* can do to help the various players I care about--myself,
my friends and family, my virtual communities, and some abstract aggregate
called "the future"--is to do what I'm doing now, by furthering an
ideology/system which is in tune with technological and political trends.

--Tim May

"The government announcement is disastrous," said Jim Bidzos,.."We warned IBM
that the National Security Agency would try to twist their technology."
[NYT, 1996-10-02]
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."